The Astro is our Gear Guy’s favorite budget headlamp. It's dimmable, has a strobe function, a lock mode, and the battery lasts 20 hours on the highest setting. “The Astro is the best headlamp for most people, most of the time,” he wrote.
Now Is the Time to Stock Up on Ski and Snowboard Gear
At this year's ski test, we loved the Bonafide as a men’s all-mountain shredder. The double sheets of Titanal make these skis stable “steamrollers” for fast, aggressive skiers. One tester said the skis were “both stout as hell and an easy round-turn carver.”
We gave the Switcher MIPS a Gear of the Year award. “After more than a dozen testers placed the Switcher on their noggins, all agreed that it was the most comfortable helmet they’d worn,” we wrote. The helmet ticked all the boxes we wanted (like a MIPS construction and a magnetic closure on the strap).
This past winter, our writer tested 20 new ski and snowboard goggles and the Scott Linx came out on top. He called these the best “performance bang for your buck.” “We took the Linx out in storms and blue-sky sessions through the spring and forgot we weren’t wearing goggles twice as expensive," he wrote.
In this year’s alpine touring ski boot test, the Celeste III became a favorite because of its roomier lower portion of the shell and the cuff. “The Celeste performs more like a ski-mountaineering boot than a four-buckle powerhouse,” we wrote. Plus, the boot has a 60-degree range of motion in walk mode so climbing is smooth and efficient.
The Völkl Secret is the sister ski to the Gear of the Year–winning M5 Mantra. We featured the Secret in our 2019 Winter Buyer’s Guide because of its ground-up approach to making these women’s-specific. One of our testers—a former instructor—said: “It’s powerful enough to bite into the hardest snow, but you can back off the gas and ski it easy, too.”
Unlike Salomon's earlier boot, the MTN Lab, the updated Salomon S/Lab MTN has Custom Shell HD technology making it heat moldable to accommodate your foot specifically. When we tested this boot for our 2019 Winter Buyer’s Guide, our testers said “it skied like a boot with twice the buckles.”
Several years ago, Dynafit introduced a turnable heel to prevent pre-release and the new ST Rotation 10 improves on that. This new version includes a spring-tensioned toe piece that auto-realigns itself so it’s easier to step back into the heel piece. This feature is why we included the Rotation in our 2019 Winter Buyer’s Guide.
Salomon took its women’s all-mountain board, the Pillow Talk, and sliced it in half to get this splitboard. This past winter, when we rounded up the best splitboarding gear of 2019, the Pillow Talk was our favorite women's splitboard in spite of the name. "The flex is on the soft side, but the board handled well in mixed conditions,” we wrote.
In our review of the best ski pants of 2019, our tester wrote, “the Patsey Marley excels on all-day missions.” Convenient features like side zippers and four pockets allowed us to store plenty of snacks and easily use the bathroom when we needed.
In our roundup of the best jackets of 2019, we dubbed the Ventus Light the top backcountry shell. “Neither flimsy nor overbuilt, this three-layer shell is breathable enough for high-output climbs and just tough enough to spar with errant ski edges,” our tester said. Bonus: it packs down to the size of a grapefruit so it’s easy to stuff when traveling.
We love this quarter-zip base layer. The merino wool helps to regulate body temperature when you’re building up a sweat under multiple ski layers, but the piece also works just as well as a light sweater for camping in the summer. And the wool naturally fights off odor, whatever the season.
Stance’s Hike Sock is one of our favorite budget-friendly essentials. The wool blend keeps feet dry and warm, while the seamless toe closures and reinforced heels and toes offer extra cushioning. Plus, we dig the Ridge Line’s eye-catching design.
Our gear editor praised Patagonia's Nine Trails packs for their clean efficiency: “With a minimalist design and well-considered features, Patagonia has proven that when it comes to daypacks, simpler is better,” they write. It's available in both men's and women's sizes from 14 liters to 36 liters.
In our 2019 Winter Buyer's Guide, the seven-by-seven-foot Puffin Luxury was our top blanket for couples. The bottom of the blanket buttons up like a sleeping bag so you can tuck your feet in and keep drafts out and the whole thing packs into its own stuff sack for easy travel. The blanket is perfect at the campsite or to cozy up at home.
This shoe was one of our favorite pieces of men’s cycling gear in our 2019 Summer Buyer’s Guide. The AM7s don’t get major points for style, but the comfortable fit more than made up for it. With a moderately still midsole, we found the shoe ideal for a few hours of riding.
In 2017, this was one of our favorite soft-sided coolers. Our Gear Guy said it's “ideal for space-crunched apartment dwellers heading out on day trips” because it packs down to the size of a three-ring binder. Fully expanded, the cooler can hold 20 cans and a couple pounds of ice.
Built for recovery, the OOahh Sport Flex sandals are perfect for walking neighborhoods, and will quickly become your new go-to post-activity shoe. The sandals absorb 37% more impact than traditional footwear to reduce stress on your feet and joints. Plus, the adjustable velcro upper and slide-on style makes for optimal comfort and fit.
This inconspicuous, two-liter waistpack is one of our favorite low-cost fanny packs. The nylon fabric is durable and lightweight so it’s perfect for storing your essentials on a short day hike. Plus, the top loading main compartment makes your gear easy to access even with one hand if you’re fishing or walking your dog.
Our tester Andrew Skurka wrote a long-term review of the UberLite and found it ideal for three-season conditions (its insulation is good enough for temperatures down to 30 degrees.) This pad is as comfortable as the revolutionary NeoAir XLite, but cuts down weight by 3.2 ounces and isn’t as noisy when moving around.
Outside contributor Wes Siler called this jacket a timeless wardrobe staple for the outdoorsman. “The innovation here is a three-layer waterproof fabric that’s soft, thick, and stretchy and wears way more comfortably than the thin, crinkly hardshell you’re used to,” writes Siler. It’s ideal for around the town, hiking, and car camping.